Government “Re-entry Blacklist” Revealed

January 1995, Vol. 7, No. 1



The existence of confidential Chinese government blacklists barring overseas-based pro-democracy and human rights activists from returning to China has long been suspected by the exiled Chinese dissident community and other concerned observers. Until now, however, no conclusive documentary evidence confirming the operation of such a policy has ever come to light. In this report, Human Rights Watch/Asia and Human Rights in China provide details of a document they obtained that was issued secretly by China’s Ministry of Public Security in May 1994. The document is titled “A List of Forty-Nine Overseas Members of Reactionary Organizations Currently Subject to Major Control.” All those named on the list are identified by the security authorities as being subject to government decrees currently banning them from re-entering China. The overwhelming majority of those on the re-entry blacklist have consistently advocated the use of peaceful means for achieving greater democracy and human rights in China. Almost 50 percent of those listed were placed on police “most wanted” notices after June 4, 1989, all in connection with alleged offenses arising from their exercise of internationally recognized rights to free speech and association during the protest movement of that year. None of those on the blacklist is known to have committed any act which could be construed as criminal under international law.

Prominent among those listed are a number of former political prisoners who, in response to sustained diplomatic pressure from the United States government over the question of China’s Most Favored Nation (MFN) status, were finally granted passports or exit permits and allowed to leave China for temporary study or medical purposes in the U.S. Prior to August 1991, when the majority of the banning orders were issued, China, for the most part, had prevented such people or their relatives from leaving the country. The banning orders, coming as public debate in the United States over China’s MFN status was increasing, indicated a policy shift that enabled the Chinese government to achieve two objectives at once. The authorities allowed dissidents to leave, thereby appearing to appease human rights critics in the U.S., while at the same time, they secretly pursued a policy of sending former political prisoners and other dissidents into involuntary exile abroad.

Others named on the re-entry blacklist had their passports canceled by Beijing or confiscated by Chinese consular officials while still living overseas, thereby rendering them effectively stateless. None have ever been formally notified that they are no longer permitted to return to China; some only learned of the prohibition when they attempted to go back.

The illegality of the Chinese government’s behavior in imposing these bans is amply demonstrated by a series of United Nations documents. According to Article 13 (paragraph 2) of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, a document so fundamental to the operation of the U.N. that all member states are deemed to fully endorse it simply by virtue of their participation in the organization, “Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country.” The principle is reinforced in Article 12 (paragraph 4) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR): “No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of the right to enter his own country.” As noted above, moreover, China’s re-entry blacklist in some cases rendered those concerned effectively stateless, in cases where the individual’s passport was canceled or confiscated. According to Article 15 (paragraph 2) of the ICCPR, “No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his nationality nor denied the right to change his nationality.” And Article 9 of the UN Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness (1961) stipulates: “A Contracting State may not deprive any person or group of persons of their nationality on racial, ethnic, religious or political grounds.”




The May 1994 Blacklist

Implication of the Ban

No Basis for Bans in PRC Law

A Failure of “Commercial Diplomacy”

List of Forty-Nine Overseas Members of Reactionary Organizations Currently Subject to Major Control

Human Rights Watch      January 1995      Vol. 7, No. 1

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